I have wanted to write this article ever since a question about painful intercourse was answered on the old "sex help" column that was published here sometimes. The answer said it was probably vaginismus. I was not sure it was.
I wanted to write this because the vestibulodynia condition is not that known, because it takes ages to figure out what it is and because if you have or are a teenage girl (or not) and do not know what is happening to your body, well, you're me seven years ago and I want to help.
Seven years ago, I had sex for the first time and it was a bitch. I was with my now-husband (I'm boring, shut up), a very consent-conscious guy - he had prefaced the whole thing, as a barely out of teenagehood boy with "you know you can change your mind absolutely whenever you want". It was still a bitch and I thought : ok, well, that was the first time. The second time was a bitch. The third and fourth time too. By then, I was thinking : ok, if I keep doing it, maybe my body will magically get used to the act. It didn't. So, I went to the clinic.
The first doctor I saw was a woman. She said I needed lube and did not seem to care about the excruciating pain I was in from her speculum. I have to admit I kind of hated her. Her face seemed to clearly say : this is all in your head. I knew I was not imagining pain : it hurt when I sit on the bus after intercourse. Sometimes, I just wouldn't go see the boyfriend because we were young horndogs and I wanted to have sex. And I tried to have sex. And the only way it calmed me was through bad, excruciating pain. So I went to a second doctor. The second doctor was at a loss and just didn't know what was wrong with me. I googled "pain during intercourse".
I was pretty sure it wasn't vaginismus because I can wear tampons and it wasn't that closed off. And the area that hurt was exactly the vestibule. I found an internet support group for the condition I was pretty sure I had , I went to one of the gynecologists supposed to know of it. He confirmed my internet diagnosis, he gave me premarin cream and prescribed an anesthasiating cream for intercourse. I wasn't willing to desensitize myself and live with the pain after the intercourse. My boyfriend was extremely supportive, even if he was very mad at me for downplaying the pain as discomfort. Today, he knows me well enough to just stop if he feels like I look like it's a tiny bit painful. I love that he needs enthusiastic consent to actually stay turned on. I hadn't told him how much it hurt at first because I was feeling abnormal, and, ridiculously, I know, less of a woman.
The cream didn't work for me, but at least, I knew it wasn't in my head. I was very happy I had seen a doctor. I looked into other treatment options : physiotherapy helped a little. Then, I participated in as osteopath's research paper in my condition and I just stayed with her. She was amazing and helped so much. If you have vestibulodynia and choose to go that way, be very careful with the specialist you choose though : it has to be someone that knows the condition and someone who has diplomas. I don't know what the laws are in the U.S., but don't go to charlatans. Neocutis cream helped a lot too, but it was too expensive and my insurances don't cover anti-wrinkle cream that also treats vestibulodynia. I heard some people choose surgery, but I also hear some of the same people have the problem come back afterwards. I can't say I don't suffer from vestibulodynia at all nowadays, I haven't seen my osteopath in ages, but I am able to have a healthy sex life and that's really all I wanted.
This is a story I wanted to share because I just wanted everyone to know that :
1. This exists. It has a name. Even if your doctor doesn't know about it, it is not in your head.
2. There are treatment options. This is not the end of life as you know it. You are not abnormal, teenage girl (or grown woman).
P.S. : This is not my first language, I apologize for any mistakes.